Sparks Associates Make a Heart Patient’s Wedding Day Special
posted on November 1, 2012 at 6:20 pm
When Tim Gregory was admitted to Sparks Regional Medical Center in Fort Smith, Ark., with chest pain just nine days before his wedding, he didn’t think it was anything serious since he had no history of heart problems. He called his fiancée Desireé Decastro, who lived in Louisiana, to let her know. She left for the hospital immediately to be with him.
Tim, a 50-year-old widowed father from Mississippi, had met Desireé, a 37-year-old divorced mother, online through eHarmony® a year earlier. They had planned a small, private wedding ceremony at a cabin in the Tennessee mountains. Desireé even had the wedding date, May 30, engraved on the inside of their wedding bands.
A change in plans
When the couple learned that Tim would have to undergo triple bypass surgery on May 23, they attempted to get married the day before his surgery, but were unable to complete the paperwork in time. After a week of recovering in the hospital with Desireé by his side, their wedding day arrived. “It was kind of a sad morning,” Desireé said. “It was something we had been looking forward to for six months.”
“I don’t know if Tim knew about the wedding date inscribed on their rings or not, but the morning of their wedding day, Tim woke up and said, ‘Call the preacher, we’re getting married,’” said Carla Thibodeaux, Customer Service. “I received a call from our pastoral care office — who were instrumental in supporting the couple and putting everything together — and they told me we were having a wedding.”
Even though the hospital has a beautiful chapel, Carla knew that the couple had planned a ceremony in the mountains, so she suggested having an outdoor ceremony in the hospital’s healing garden — Desireé agreed. With just a few hours to plan, Associates jumped into action. “Everybody pitched in: The food service department provided the cake and punch, and volunteer chaplains Shirley Harrod and Iris Bruce made sure all the marriage paperwork was taken care of and the bride and groom had a bouquet and boutonniere,” Carla said.
Something old, new, borrowed and blue
Associates planned everything down to the smallest details, ensuring that Desireé had something old (a penny in her shoe), new (a new bridal bouquet), borrowed (a pearl necklace and earrings from the gift shop — which they ended up giving to her as a gift) and blue (a blue ribbon and charm tied around a handkerchief). They also made sure Tim’s discharge paperwork was complete before the wedding, so the couple could make a traditional exit afterward.
Volunteer chaplain Mike Stark officiated the ceremony, and Tim’s nurse Georgia, who had formed a close bond with the couple, stood in as a witness. “Dr. Rowland Vernon, Tim’s surgeon, came to the wedding, and everyone who had met them made an effort to be there to celebrate with them,” Carla said. “It was just magical — one of those stories you only hear about, but we were lucky enough to actually experience it.”
The local media also covered the story, and along with hospital Associates, helped take photos and video for Tim and Desireé so they could look back on their special day and share it with loved ones. After the wedding, several family members sent messages to hospital Associates, thanking them for holding the wedding and making the day special for Tim and Desireé. Among those was a message from Kimberly Lott, Tim’s daughter.
“Your kindness and generosity are astounding,” Kimberly said. “You not only helped us keep my dad alive, but allowed our family to grow and live on. Thank you, thank you a thousand times.”
Click here to watch coverage of the wedding by a local news station.